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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014
The perils of being a woman journalist
Puja Changoiwala, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, August 24, 2013
First Published: 02:44 IST(24/8/2013)
Last Updated: 03:05 IST(24/8/2013)

There are only two categories of people who run in the direction that everyone else is trying to escape – journalists and policemen. I knew this before I joined this publication as a reporter around two years ago. But the intricacies, the important and not-so-pleasant ones of this facet for a woman journalist, were revealed to me much later.

It was May 16, 2013. I was covering actor Sanjay Dutt’s surrender before the Tada court after his conviction in the 1993 blasts case. The media frenzy, thronging of fans, lathi charge by police personnel – all of this was expected. What was not expected was the harassment that we, women journalists, would be subjected to.

Around 3.30 pm, I was waiting outside the sessions court at Fort with other journalists, waiting for the actor to surrender before the court. As his cavalcade of about seven to eight cars stopped before the barricaded entrance to the court premises, Dutt’s Innova car stopped right outside the court. What ensued was madness.

As soon as the actor stepped out of his SUV, around 100 fans and media persons charged at him. I was part of the crowd and as I ran with them to catch the sentence
or two that he would utter before entering the court, I felt a man touch me inappropriately. I turned around and he looked away.

Two minutes later, he repeated the act. All of us, over 100 of us, were literally pressed against each other and there was little space for me to raise my hand, slap him, or even push him away. I turned around and yelled at him, asking him to stay away. “I am only trying to protect you, madam. It is too crowded here,” he said.

There have been several instances where women journalists have been targeted. Especially as crime reporters, we are a vulnerable lot as we visit several places that are “not safe” for women. They are crime spots for God’s sake!


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